An elevator convo with Joel Cheung. See here for more from our Next Up series.
What do you do?
As the co-founder of Smooth Ride, I find myself — as many entrepreneurs do — wearing multiple hats. I work mainly in the operations, marketing, admin and business development sides of the business.
How does your business work?
We help visitors to our city discover some of the hidden gems and interesting places around town, giving them insights into the city’s history and culture. Using bikes means that guests can hear, smell, and see the street life in front of them whilst cycling along.
How did your business get started?
Having been on multiple bike tours overseas in cities such as Paris, Singapore, and Bangkok, we found cycling to be a great way to really make the most of our time seeing a city whilst learning a little about what we were looking at. We sat on the idea for a couple of years whilst working full-time jobs, then we decided, let’s give it a shot!
Starting a company is quite a commitment, both mentally and financially, so we applied for and successfully won a grant from the Home Affairs department for young entrepreneurs, which gave us the kick-start we needed. With this, I took the plunge, quitting my stable full-time job in event and activity organizing to begin the next phase of my life as an entrepreneur.
Who are your clients?
We have a real variety of clients ranging from university students to holidaymakers. However, what they all have in common is a thirst for in-depth, informative tours of Hong Kong. Our clients are mainly visitors to the city, but we have also worked with local companies and universities. Most visitors come from English speaking countries such as the US, UK, and Australia, however we do get a significant amount of Dutch guests, too. I put this down to their cycling culture and love of bikes.
What’s a day in your working life like?
A day at work for me usually starts with responding to emails. I try to have them all cleared so I can continue my day free of distraction. For me, a clear inbox is a clear mind. This generally takes me to our first tour of the day. If I’m leading it, I’ll meet the guests at the shop and show them how the bikes work, then we’ll be off exploring the sights of the city. Having finished the morning tour, I’ll often take the guests out for lunch before heading back to the office to continue working on some admin or business development. As a small business owner, I often find myself wearing many hats: guide, admin, accountant, staff manager, you name it! It is exciting to be involved in every part of the business, as it really gives you an idea of how one can affect the other.
Where do you see your business in future?
We’re quite a young company. Just this past year we’ve learnt so much, and I’m sure we’ll continue along our path. Our current plans are focused on expanding our selection of routes and products we can offer to our guests within Hong Kong. However, with the impressive rate of development of China’s Bay Area [Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau], including its tourism sector, we’d like to expand into cities in the region, as well as internationally.